Amid questions about Hartford’s funding of his youth anti-violence program, Andrew Woods, executive Director of Hartford Communities that Care, abruptly resigned last week but rescinded his resignation yesterday, reports the Hartford Courant. The resignation came after the city council voted to give his group $150,000 to cover a shortfall in funds for this year and to continue funding his Youth Engagement Anti-Violence Intervention Initiative into next year. Woods, an ally of Mayor Eddie Perez and a leader in the city’s Democratic Party, has described the program as a round-the-clock, street-level youth intervention service. Perez and Woods say the program stands out in its potential for success in preventing violent incidents among city youth.
“Ask [other] programs what time they shut their doors,” Woods said. “When our kids leave school – or even leave an after-school program – you still have that peak hour between then and midnight when a lot of stuff happens.” Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, who voted against the funding, questioned why one group should receive hundreds of thousands in city money, with little oversight and no competition. Woods program identified 110 youth between 14 and 24 as being “at risk” for violence. They included students who have poor attendance records, are at least two grades behind their age group, have dropped out of school, or are incarcerated on drug or weapons charges. The program is a combination of out-of-city retreats, classes in conflict negotiation, tutoring, youth employment and on-the-street engagement – including what Woods described as his personal ability to defuse rumors and the finger-pointing that often lead to shootings.